NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

Games recaps, three stars of the week, Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk battling cancer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko scored a goal and set up two others as the St. Louis Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-1, snapping the latter’s eight-game points streak. It was a costly defeat for the Avalanche as winger Mikko Rantanen left the game in the second period with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.  Coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen will be re-evaluated today.

St. Louis Blues’ winger Vladimir Tarasenko led his club to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

Gustav Nyquist’s overtime goal on a penalty shot lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets blew a 2-0 first-period lead and forced the extra frame on Alexander Wennberg’s game-tying goal in the third period. Austin Matthews tallied a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson returned to the lineup after missing six games to an upper-body injury,

The Dallas Stars nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1, handing the Senators their fourth straight defeat. Earlier in the day, Stars forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop revealed their respective houses suffered damage as a result of a tornado that ripped through North Dallas on Sunday night. Seguin’s house is the one he has up for sale as he’s already moved into a new one.

A five-goal outburst by the Philadelphia Flyers powered them to a 6-2 drubbing of the Vegas Golden Knights. Michael Raffl led the way for the Flyers with two goals and an assist.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton are the league’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 20, 2019.

TSN: Hockey Hall of Fame Dale Hawerchuk revealed he’s receiving treatment for stomach cancer. He took a leave of absence in early-September from his job as head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Hawerchuk makes a full recovery. 

NJ.COM:  Devils center Nico Hischier (upper-body injury) and defenseman Will Butcher (upper body) could return to the lineup on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

CBS SPORTS:  Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello is ready to return to action after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Brian Dumoulin (lower body) on injured reserve dating back to Oct. 18.

 










NHL One-Hit Wonders: Atlantic Division

NHL One-Hit Wonders: Atlantic Division

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 23, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 23, 2019

Evgeny Kuznetsov receives a four-year ban from the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The International Ice Hockey Federation suspended Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov from international competition for four years after he tested positive for cocaine at the 2019 World Championships.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov receives a four-year ban by the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement noting cocaine “is not considered a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Instead, it is considered a drug of abuse that is tested for and for which intervention, evaluation, and mandatory treatment can occur in appropriate cases.”

Daly indicated Kuznetsov “has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL and NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program.” He’s also agreed to an in-person meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman before training camp opens.

The Capitals and Kuznetsov also released statements. He took responsibility for his actions, expressed remorse for his actions, and accepted the IIHF’s ban. The club approves of Kuznetsov seeking treatment, indicating they will continue to support him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ban means Kuznetsov cannot participate in IIHF-sanctioned tournaments. That includes the 2022 Beijing Olympics if the NHL agrees to participate. It remains to be seen if he’ll receive any disciplinary action from the NHL. Here’s hoping Kuznetsov gets the proper treatment and can put this incident behind him.

TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he intends to open contract extension talks with goaltender Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom next month. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July. The Capitals carry around $19 million in salary-cap space for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing both players could prove costly. Holtby carries an annual average value of $6.1 million on his current contract while Backstrom’s is $6.7 million.

Unless one or both accept hometown discounts or the Capitals shed some salary, McLellan could sign only one of them. Capitals fans I’ve spoken with appear resigned to Holtby hitting the market next summer.

TWINCITIES.COM: Six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is back on skates. The 36-year-old center expects to be ready when training camp opens on Sept. 12.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Aaron Portzline tweets there’s no indication the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Zach Werenski are close to a new contract, but also no indication talks have hit a snag. “No urgency to get a deal done, but that could change when the calendar flips to September. CBJ and Werenski’s agent, Pat Brisson, expected to talk again soon.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins GM Don Sweeney admitted contract talks with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo aren’t moving as fast as everyone would like. Nevertheless, he anticipates the two restricted free agent defensemen will be part of the Bruins for a long time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t anticipate Werenski, McAvoy, Carlo or any of the other remaining restricted free agents to be signed until next month. We could see a flurry of signings in the days leading up to the start of training camp in mid-September.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames invited former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to training camp on a tryout basis.

THE SCORE: Ottawa Senators coach D.J. Smith said the club won’t name a captain for the upcoming season. “The captain will emerge in time. I think the biggest thing is that we will allow the older guys to mentor these younger guys and blunt the blow until we turn the corner here,” said Smith.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2019

Updates on Jake Gardiner and Nikita Gusev, plus five players who could need training camp to get new contracts in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WHY IS GARDINER STILL UNSIGNED?

TSN: Bryan Hayes and Mike Johnson discussed why former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner remains unsigned. Johnson said he’d heard whispers suggesting Gardiner enjoyed playing for the Leafs so much he’d prefer taking a lesser deal for Toronto. Hayes wondered if he’d accept a one-year deal to bolster his value for next summer’s market.

Speculation abounds over why Jake Gardiner remains unsigned (Photo via NHL Images).

Hayes considers Gardiner a top-four defenseman on most teams in the league and doesn’t believe he’s not getting calls. His back, which was injured last season, could be an issue but Hayes isn’t convinced that’s the case.

Hayes feels Gardiner wants to play for a specific club and believes it’s the Leafs, despite the flak he sometimes got from fans and media. Both men point out the blueliner was very popular with his Leafs teammates. 

Both agree it could depend upon the outcome of Mitch Marner’s contract talks. Johnson also wondered if the Montreal Canadiens could be a destination for Gardiner if there’s no deal to be had with the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve assumed Gardiner became the odd man out in the musical chairs that is the NHL UFA market. In other words, the teams that might have had interest in him no longer have sufficient cap space to sign him to a lucrative long-term deal. That would force Gardiner to accept a short-term deal for below market value. I also felt last season’s back injury might have scared off potential suitors. 

Hayes and Johnson, however, believe something else is afoot. They raise good points about Gardiner’s back and the possibility he prefers returning to the Leafs or only playing in specific markets. Nevertheless there hasn’t been a peep from the blueliner or his representatives that he’s close to inking a new deal.

I don’t see Gardiner returning to the Leafs unless Marner accepts a very affordable bridge deal, which I doubt he will. Still, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has done a good job juggling his club’s limited salary-cap space this summer. Maybe he’s got one more trick up his sleeve that could bring Gardiner back for one more year. 

GUSEV COULD STAY IN THE KHL

TSN: cites a report from a Russian news outlet indicating the agent for winger Nikita Gusev will advise his client to remain in the KHL if he isn’t re-signed by the Vegas Golden Knights or traded before a set date. Yuri Nikolaev said he’s aware the Golden Knights have received trade offers for his client but Gusev prefers to re-sign with Vegas. The two sides are reportedly around $2 million apart, with Gusev seeking $4 million and the Knights offering up $2 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Gusev’s agent is trying to speed things along for his client. Over two weeks ago, it appeared the Russian winger’s NHL rights were on the verge of being traded but things have gone quiet since then. The Golden Knights’ limited salary-cap space could force Gusev to accept their offer if he’s determined to play in the NHL this season. 

FIVE NHL VETERANS WHO COULD NEED TRAINING CAMP TO GET NEW CONTRACTS.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Derick Brassard and Andrew MacDonald top Jared Clinton’s recent list of five veteran NHLers who could need training camp to land new contracts. Riley Sheahan, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Tobias Rieder round out the list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if all five accept professional tryout offers if they remain unsigned when September rolls around. Some of them could also avoid that possibility by inking cheap one-year deals in hopes of bolstering their value for next summer. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2019

The Penguins trade Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks, and Dion Phaneuf and Andrew MacDonald are bought out. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Pittsburgh Penguins traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for center Dominik Kuhan and a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. 

Pittsburgh Penguins trade defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While most of the focus in the Penguins trade-rumor mill was on Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, Maatta was also considered a potential trade candidate. He’d fallen out of favor with head coach Mike Sullivan and the Penguins had to free up salary-cap space.

Maatta makes over $4 million annually through 2021-22 while Kahun earns $925K for 2019-20. The move shed over $3 million for the Penguins, giving them over $6 million in cap space for next season. The Penguins also get back a decent player in Kahun. The 23-year-old is a speedy, versatile forward who can play center or wing and tallied 37 points as a rookie this season, all but two of those at even strength.

For the first time in years, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has plenty of salary cap space to work with. Maatta brings what should be an invaluable injection of youth and puck-moving skill to their blueline. While he struggled this season, he helped the Penguins win two Stanley Cup championships. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain his confidence. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf. He was due to earn $5.25-million per season from the Kings through 2020-21. Cap Friendly has the buyout breakdown for the Kings and Phaneuf’s former club, the Ottawa Senators.

CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday placed defenseman Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers to buy out the final season of his contract. MacDonald, 32, had one year remaining on his five-year contract with an annual average value of $5 million. Cap Friendly has the details of the buyout. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves were unsurprising. Both blueliners are past their playing prime and carried too much salary. Still, I can see them signing affordable one- or two-year contracts with clubs seeking experienced depth and leadership on their bluelines.

There was speculation the Kings might also buy out center Jeff Carter. The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman reports Kings GM Rob Blake saying Phaneuf will be their only buyout this summer. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks raised concern over the NHL’s concussion protocol after Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk admitted he played through a concussion he suffered earlier in the postseason. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks isn’t the only person raising the alarm over the issue. Did DeBrusk hide his symptoms from team doctors? Was the coaching staff and management aware of his situation? If so, why did they allow him to continue playing? As my pal Scotty Wazz of The Face Off Hockey Show points out, this doesn’t reflect well on the league’s concussion program. 

STLTODAY.COM: Check out the photos of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup victory parade.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2019

Latest on the Canadiens, Senators, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

CANADIENS

LA PRESSE: Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin doesn’t expect his difficult end to this season will result in a trade this summer. While Drouin acknowledged his late-season offensive struggles, he believes his club has a good group of players and doesn’t anticipate changing sweaters. Drouin said he understood why his playing time was reduced during a crucial game against the Carolina Hurricanes, adding he wants to help the team in any way he could.

Jonathan Drouin expects to be back with the Montreal Canadiens next season (Photo via NHL Images).

Drouin admitted being puzzled by his late-season slump. Teammates like Carey Price supported Drouin, who want to help him improve his consistency. General manager Marc Bergevin praised Drouin’s maturity and expects he’ll take another step forward next season. Drouin finished the season with 53 points. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens will be looking for a backup goaltender as free agent Antti Niemi won’t be back after struggling through this season. Charlie Lindgren could be an option but he didn’t have a good season with the Habs farm team in Laval. Bergevin could go shopping for a veteran backup if he feels Lindgren isn’t ready. 

Pat Hickey feels it’s unlikely Bergevin can lure free-agent talent to Montreal, citing issues such as “taxes, weather, travel and whether their wives are going to happy.” The Canadiens GM also seems reluctant to go the offer-sheet route as he’s averse to trading away first-round draft picks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens fans were unhappy with Drouin’s performance down the stretch, and he does seem to sulk on the bench sometimes when things aren’t going his way. However, he’s 24 and still has room to improve his consistency and maturity. It certainly sounds like Bergevin isn’t giving up on Drouin so I wouldn’t expect to see the winger getting traded this summer.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $64.3 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20 with all their core players under contract. Assuming a salary cap of $83 million, Bergevin will have around $19 million to re-sign his restricted free agents and to pursue a top-four left-side defenseman, an established scoring forward and a backup goalie. I expect he’ll look into the free-agent market and could make an affordable signing or two.

To address his bigger needs, however, he’ll likely have to go the trade route, which he did with success last summer by acquiring Max Domi and Tomas Tatar. Bergevin is reluctant to part with his first-round picks but he’s got two selections in the second round and three in the fifth of this year’s draft plus two in the fourth round in 2020 to draw upon for trade bait.

SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports changes will continue this summer for the Senators. They are in the market for a new head coach. It’s expected they’ll attempt to re-sign free agents Anthony Duclair and Brian Gibbons but could part ways with Magnus Paajarvi and Oscar Lindberg.

Garrioch expects they’ll attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Cody Ceci but could trade him if an agreement on a new contract cannot be reached. He also suggested using Ben Harpur as trade bait to bring in a forward.

Garrioch thinks they could backup goalie Anders Nilsson depart via free agency if he seeks more than a one-year contract. He also tweeted yesterday GM Pierre Dorion said they may add a veteran player on July 1. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson believes the Senators would be wise to retain veteran starting goalie Craig Anderson through the final season of his contract. He notes a couple of teams, including the Calgary Flames, had interest in Anderson at the trade deadline, but the return for aging goaltenders hasn’t been good in the trade market. Stevenson feels Anderson’s experience and affordable cap hit for next season makes him worth retaining for next season. 

Stevenson also reported contract talks between the Senators and Ceci have been positive thus far. While Senators fans pointed to Ceci’s poor advanced stats, management likes how he eats up tough minutes against top opposition. Despite the acrimony of last year’s salary arbitration hearing, Ceci wants to stay and the club wants to keep him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson asked to be dealt last June but his age and cap hit didn’t attract much interest. If there are clubs looking at him this summer they’ll likely only give up a low draft pick to get him. With the Senators rebuilding and lacking skilled depth between the pipes, I think they’ll keep him around for next season and test his market value leading up to the trade deadline.

As for Ceci, it certainly sounds as though he could have a long-term future in Ottawa. That isn’t going to please his critics among Sens followers but management values his experience and ability to log big minutes, which will be vital for their rebuilding blueline.

Having shed notable stars like Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, the Senators have over $45 million invested in 14 players for next season. Ceci, Duclair and Colin White are their notable free agents. Assuming it costs around $10 million to re-sign those three, they’ll still have to spend over $5 million to reach what could be a $60 million cap minimum. They won’t be going after any big-name talent but I expect they’ll attempt to bring in one or two quality veterans with leadership experience. 

FLYERS 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will be in the market for a second-line center, a top-four defenseman, and a backup goaltender. Fletcher considers this summer’s UFA market to be “Ok, not elite”. The top potential UFA include ” defensemen Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers, and Anton Stralman, and forwards Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Kevin Hayes.” 

Fletcher also said he’s never extended an offer sheet to another club’s restricted free agent and Boruk doubts he’ll do so this summer. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has one year left on his contract with a $5-million cap hit, would appear a likely candidate for a contract buyout. However, Fletcher said he’s not a big fan of contract buyouts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have over $47 million tied up in 13 players. Fletcher has more than enough to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim and still have enough to make a big splash in the free agent or trade pools this summer. It’s assumed Cam Talbot will return as a backup and mentor for rookie Carter Hart. Fletcher could eye Karlsson or Duchene in the free-agent market.